It's come to this. With last night's humiliating 2-1 home loss to Trinidadian club W Connection, the New York Red Bulls have shot the rest of this horrible 2009 season to smithereens. With nine meaningless league matches to play, the worst season in MLS history will come to a merciful end on Saturday, October 24th against visiting Toronto FC.
To date this year, the Red Bulls have stumbled and bumbled their way to a collective 3-17-5 overall mark, with a 2-15-4 record in league play. The club is currently on a 14-match winless streak, dating back to a 4-1 home win vs. Western Conference cellar-dweller San Jose on May 8th. In fact, two of New York's three wins have come vs. the not-as-bad-as-NY Earthquakes. The other victory came at home vs. RSL in April.
Despite dead-man-walking coach Juan Carlos Osorio's reputation as a defensive coach, the 2009 Red Bulls have given up 2+ goals 52% of the time, and 3+ goals in 30% of matches. Up front, though, the team has been spectactularly woeful. New York has been shut out in almost half of its outings (11 of 25 games), and scored a single goal only seven times as well. That's almost three out of four games with no or one goal. Atrocious.
Who's to blame? Certainly Agoos and Osorio, but for my money the departure of left wing midfielder Dave van den Bergh is most responsible for the team's offensive demise. in 2008, vDB provided quality service to Juan Pablo Angel, was an imposing presence in the box, and started many scoring plays, recording 5 assists. van den Bergh complemented speedy right winger Dane Richards, and helped the club score 42 goals in 30 matches. This year, with two-thirds of the season gone, NY has scored just 24 times in 25 games.
So where does the club go from here? Much has been made about New York's long history of coaching changes (11 in nearly 14 seasons). A recent trip to Austria didn't generate the dismissal of Osorio and Agoos. With a gorgeous new stadium ready for an April 2010 opening, and dwindling attendance in a lost season, what can be done to save this franchise from its' wretchedness? A new coach and GM for sure, but who? New players, but who? Another DP? One thing's for sure. The 2009 Red Bulls have been a failure unlike any its poor fan base have ever seen.